It’s the second most wonderful time of the year for those of us with massive Sephora addictions! 😝 That’s right! The Sephora VIB Sale is almost here!!! I thought I would go through some of my favorite cruelty free products available at Sephora to give you a few recommendations while considering what new goodies to pick up this go-round. Real quick, the details as I understand them are that the sale runs from April 18th through the 24th for VIB Rouge members and your discount will be 15% off of everything as many times as you choose to shop in that time frame! Similarly, VIB member will receive 15% off between April 19th and 24th, while Beauty Insiders will be getting 10% off from April 20th through April 23rd. If you’re one of these lucky Sephora Insider members, you should receive a card in the mail as well as a code in your email that can be used over and over again during the above mentioned dates! There has also been some fantastic cruelty free news: Tashina from Logical Harmony has confirmed that Smashbox and Marc Jacobs Beauty (not the fragrances) have been added to her cruelty free list (Stila‘s back too)!!! Discounts and new brands and cruelty free goodness, oh my! 😜 Enough silliness, let’s get to the recommendations (linked to reviews if I have one). 😉
I’m going to start with Skin Care as I feel this is not only one of the more spendy areas of Sephora, but also one of the most important parts of anyone’s beauty routine.
My first must-have product is the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil. My review is linked so I won’t get too into it, but it’s a retinoid oil with calming and soothing blue tansy. I’m on my 3rd bottle and, not to be overly dramatic but…it’s life changing! Ok, skin changing? You get the idea. Somehow the combination of the retinoid with the soothing and nourishing oil is just perfection. I have tried a few other retinoids since this absolutely is a pricey number (there is a “trial” size now that makes it a bit easier to swallow), but honestly nothing compares to this wonder product. This is probably my biggest must-have!
Moving on to a bit more of a brand than a specific product, but I highly recommend trying out anything from Drunk Elephant. I have used the T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, the C-Firma Day Serum, the B-Hydra Intensive Hydrating Gel (absolutely fantastic moisturizer especially if you hate a greasy feeling on your skin) and a sample of the insane but wonderful T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial mask. All of them are fantastic and currently somewhere in my routine. The Night Serum is a daily chemical exfoliant, the Day Serum is a Vitamin C treatment (wonderful and not at all uncomfortable on the skin like so many others), the Hydrating Gel is just that (my fave!) and the Babyfacial is an incredible and powerful once a week intense acid peel (your face will feel like a baby’s ass, but not for the faint of heart!). It’s a truly wonderful brand that keeps out the nasty irritants and provides high quality ingredients that actually make a difference in the skin.
I have a couple faves from IT Cosmetics – the Bye Bye Under Eye Eye Cream (still working on samples myself because it takes so little!) and the Bye Bye Makeup 3-in-1 Makeup Melting Cleansing Balm. The Eye Cream is incredibly nourishing and I actually see a difference in my under eyes. The Cleansing Balm is my go-to makeup remover. You only need a tiny bit to remove even stubborn makeup. I do follow up with another cleanser, but this can double as your cleanser as well if you prefer. I just like to really ensure that all the makeup is gone and my skin is as clean as possible before then adding a shedload of other crap. 😂
On the masking front, I have 2 to mention (in addition to the Drunk Elephant Babyfacial). The first is a more gentle acid peel than the Drunk Elephant, but still beautifully effective. It is the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask. Again, smooth as a baby’s butt. My second choice is great for acne-prone or irritated skin as it contains soothing Blue Tansy. It is the Herbivore Blue Tansy AHA + BHA Resurfacing Clarity Mask! It is also a gentler chemical exfoliating peel, but like the Luna Oil, there’s a huge dose of Blue Tansy to help comfort the skin. They’re both wonderful, though similar masks. I would go for the Tata Harper first unless you are suffering from a lot of irritation or redness that you don’t want to aggravate. In that case, though the Tata Harper mask is still great and gentle, the added blue tansy in the Herbivore mask might be more up your alley. I use them both at various times and they’re both worth the steep price tags. 🤑
I have 1 lip treatment item that needs inclusion. 😄 It is the Kari Gran Lip Whip! I have the tinted version (only because that was all that was available when I initially tried it). It’s a lip-saving overnight treatment (at least that’s how I use it) and I cannot imagine being without it. The Lip Whip is a really thick and highly nourishing potted balm. I just apply the tiniest dot before bed and I wake up with perfectly hydrated and super comfortable lips. One jar usually lasts me about a year…probably also it’s shelf life. 😉 Cannot recommend this enough, though I wouldn’t use it as a daily balm – mainly for convenience reasons.
Now let’s move on to Makeup!!! I’m going to try and stick to the best of my favorites because there are so many things that are really good in the makeup world of Sephora. We’re going to start with the base-ics….😜
Face Primer: I recently reviewed the Milk Makeup Blur Stick and that’s really the only primer that’s coming to mind…at least from Sephora! It’s good for controlling shine, blurring the overall look of the skin and it helps makeup to stay put. Basically it does what you want a primer to do…and it’s fun to use! 🙃
Foundation: My favorite of the moment, and the only one coming to mind at Sephora, is the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Water Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15. I recently tried this to see how it compares to the NYX Total Control Drop Foundation and though it doesn’t stop shine as well, I actually think I like the finish of the Tarte Foundation a lot more. It’s a fantastic foundation that I feel like could work for a variety of skin types. I would say it has a medium coverage with a natural finish. It’s great stuff! I feel I need to add the Cover FX Custom Cover Drops as well because, a) I use them all the time with a lot of different foundations, and b) they’re just a great mixing product to keep at hand. Though technically not a foundation, these drops are meant to mixed in with foundation or any other liquids for the face (like skin care) to either add or intensify the coverage. It’s a wonderful product that can be used with just about anything by pretty much anyone. So if you’re in need of coverage, those are the 2 I would look into from Sephora!
Concealer: Again, only 1 comes to mind currently and it is the NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer. It’s not my go-to for under the eyes, but around the face I absolutely love it! If you’re looking for a good under eye concealer (and this does work, just not my favorite) available at Sephora, I would also recommend the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer or the Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer. These have both been prior favorites, but have been surpassed by the Tarte Shape Tape that is currently an Ulta exclusive.
Powder: To set everything, I prefer loose powder and my current all-time favorite setting powder is the Cover FX Perfect Setting Powder. This is a loose powder (there is a pressed version as well, but I have not tried it yet). It not only sets the makeup nicely, but it is completely invisible on the skin! I have found a few good powders over the years, but this one absolutely takes the cake! 😜
Bronzer / Contour: I’m not a big one for bronzer, but I do have some favorites that are more for contouring. The closest recommendation to a “traditional” bronzer is the Too Faced Sweethearts Bronzer in “Sweet Tea.” Cute packaging aside, the bronzer inside consists of 2 shades of a neutral-to-cool toned subtly shimmery powder. I just swirl the colors together and blend it into the hollows of my cheeks, my forehead and a bit under the jaw. It’s a lovely product and it kind of sculpts and bronzes just enough to look natural, but still make a difference. More on the contouring side of things, I absolutely love the Anastasia Stick Foundation. They actually have 3 contouring shades and a banana highlighting shade in this cream formula. I use the shade “Fawn” and it just such an easy product to stripe into the hollows of the cheeks, down the sides of the nose and on the forehead. It blends beautifully with a stippling brush and, again it looks natural without disappearing completely. If you’re more interested in a palette of powders, you can’t go wrong with the Kat von D Shade + Light Contour Palette is a must have! This contains 3 contour shades and 3 matte highlighting shades that will work on a variety of skintones.
Blush: There are a lot of great blushes available at Sephora so it was kind of difficult to narrow it down. I know that the ones I reach for tend to be the Too Faced Love Flush Blushes, the Urban Decay Afterglow 8 Hour Powder Blushes, the NARS Blushes and the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes. All of these are great with a variety of color options. Between the 4 brands, I’m sure you’ll find something you love!
Oh dear lord! It keeps going!
Highlighter: If you’re looking for an intense, but beautiful highlighter that is so creamy, buttery smooth and still somehow believable, go for one of the BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed. The liquid versions are fantastic as well for a more subtle look, but I think more people would enjoy the powders. If you want more of a natural looking glow-from-within kind of look, the I would go for the Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Powder. If you’re more interested in a cream glow-from-within look, check out the RMS Living Luminizer. This is so natural, so gorgeous and so quick and easy! All are sure to please, it’s just a question of what you’re looking for.
Brows: I feel like brow products are a really personal preference depending on what you’ve got to work with. My brows hairs are really far apart so I need something that fills in a lot and I prefer it do so quickly! 😄 My absolute favorite is the Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil. Though pricey, I have had the same pencil for quite some time because there is so much product in it! As for the formula, this is a pretty creamy pencil with a triangle shape. I find it’s great for filling in a lot without a lot of time, plus it has a waxy finish that helps keep the hairs in place. The spoolie on the other end is my absolute favorite as well! Some people may not like this pencil, but I personally love it.
Eye Liner: I’m not one for liquid eye liner, but I do have a lot of eye pencils that I love! A super creamy option that lasts all day and comes in a good variety of basic and fun colors are the Ardency Inn Modster Smooth Ride Supercharged Eyeliners. I also have been a long time fan of the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils. These come in so many shades that it’s mind boggling. They aren’t quite as creamy as the Ardency Inn, but they last really well. If you’re looking for something perfect for the waterlines, I recommend the Urban Deacy 24/7 Waterline Eye Pencil. These actually do stay put really well in tough areas while still being pretty creamy. Not as wide of a color selection, but you’ve got your basics. They’re all good, but honestly you really don’t need to leave the “drugstore” realm to find a pretty good pencil liner. Still, I indulge a lot! 😳
Eye Shadow Palettes / Singles: We’re come to the category everyone probably loves the most…eye shadow palettes! 😆 I feel like pretty much any cruelty free shadow palette at Sephora is going to be pretty good these days, so it really comes down to what kind of colors you’re most likely to use. My favorites are probably the larger Too Faced Palettes. My most used are probably the Sweet Peach for it’s warm peachy-bronzes and the Chocolate Bon Bons, though I’m not entirely sure why. I guess it’s more of a cool-toned palette, but I’m probably most drawn to it because there are a lot of medium-hued neutrals. All of the Too Faced Palettes are great (White Chocolate Chip aside), it just gets down to your personal preferences. Another great palette is the Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Palette, though I must say I almost always create the same look with it. Still, the shadow quality is fantastic! Though I absolutely love Urban Decay Eye Shadows, I feel like the palettes don’t stand alone as well as the Too Faced ones. I still highly recommend the Urban Decay single shadows, as well as the palettes, but I feel you’re going to get a more complete array of lights, mediums, darks as well as shimmers and mattes with a Too Faced Palette. Similarly, the Natasha Denona Eyeshadows are freakin’ fantastic! I only have a few of the 5 Palettes and the quality is probably better than anything else I have come across, but you’re not getting a great mix of mattes and shimmers in these specific palettes. Highly recommend them as long as you’re not hoping for a day-to-day palette that can do everything you may need. There are so many great shadows these days that it really does mainly come down to color preference.
Mascara: I have 2 similar formulas to recommend. The first is a vegan fave, the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara. This will create some intense, bold lashes so if natural is your thing, ignore these recommendations. 😄 Another option that some people seem to prefer for a similar look is the Marc Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara. I feel like this may have flaked a little bit more than the Too Faced for me, but it’s been a while since I’ve used either. Regardless, they are both fantastic for volume and drama.
Lipsticks!!!: Clearly my most recent favorite has been the Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Color Splash Lipsticks. 😆 As far as I understand, these are also vegan! I finally found some favorite shades, which are “Island Life” (a medium rose) and “Surf’s Up” (a medium slightly peachy-rose). I also absolutely adore the formula of the Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks, though there aren’t a ton of shades that I love. I will say that “714” is one of my favorite matte reds of all time though! I like a lot of the sheer shades too. I feel like I can’t fully recommend the Kat von D Studded Kiss Lipsticks because I haven’t tried too many, but I do really enjoy them despite the drier formula. For a liquid lipstick, again I haven’t tried many, but the Kat von D Everlasting Liquid Lipsticks are probably one of the best matte liquid lipstick formulas at Sephora. If you’re more of a lip crayon lover, then check out the Bite Beauty High Pigment Pencils or the Matte Crème Lip Crayons. Both are gorgeous formulas with a wide array of colors and food-grade ingredients. There are so many great lipstick formulas available everywhere and at all price ranges that ultimately I would just look for colors that you really love.
Lip Gloss: Maybe you’re more of a gloss person. I’m not so I only have a few suggestions, but they’re good! 😜 I love the Buxom Full On Lip Creams. There is a good selection of shades that are pigmented enough to be worn alone or over gloss, not too sticky while still lasting a decent amount of time and they are just plain comfortable. Similarly, there are the Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Glosses. To be fair, I only have on in the shade “Kristen,” which I adore! It’s a bit thicker in texture than the Buxom, but equally as comfortable with similar attributes. If anything, Anastasia Glosses are even more pigmented. Both are lovely and are my top picks if you’re going glossy!
Tools: One I would highly recommend is the Sephora Collection Color Switch by Vera Mona Brush Cleaner. Though Sephora Collection itself is technically not cruelty free, Vera Mona is and this is basically a Vera Mona product in Sephora packaging. You decide if you want to buy the Sephora edition, or hunt down the original Vera Mona Color Switch (not available at Sephora). I’m including it because the Color Switch is a must-have for me as you can wipe brushes free from colored powders so that they’re essentially “clean” for the next color. It’s a great and useful tool (clearly mine gets a lot of use 😂).
A definite staple in everyone’s collection (in my opinion) is an eyelash curler and my favorite is the Kevyn Aucoin The Eyelash Curler. Obviously different eye shapes will work better with different curlers, but I find this is a pretty good more or less generic curler that’s really great and doesn’t crimp or bend the lashes! It does seem to fit my eyes better than most, but I feel my eyes are relatively middle-of-the-road. Not too deep, not too big, just plain old boring eyes. 😄
For some people, this next tool is an absolute must-have. It is the Beauty Blender! Personally, I use these occasionally and depending on what foundation I’m using. I do enjoy it with the above-mentioned Tarte Foundation. I have tried a few other sponges that are decent, but there really is something different about the good ole Beauty Blender. If you know you like sponges, or just really want to try the “original,” now is a great time!
Last but not least in the makeup tool department is a brush. It is synthetic, though not all brushes by the brand are. It is the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brush #12. It’s a brow brush that you would use with powders and/or pomades. If you just want a great brow spoolie, it has that too! It’s just a wonderful small angled brush that’s nice and thin, giving you fantastic control over where your product is going. By far the best brow brush I’ve tried!
Perfume: Let’s move into “some stuff that smells” good turf, shall we? I’m not usually a big one for perfumes, but there are some brands I love at Sephora. The first is Pinrose. I honestly love almost every scent they have out. They just switched up their packaging, added 2 new scents and (sadly) eliminated a few others. One of my favorites is “Secret Genius” which is a lovely vanilla-based scent. It’s a good “grown-up” vanilla, but still sweet. I also really like “Tambourine Dreamer” which shocked the hell outta me because it’s a definite white floral. Gorgeous scent even to a floral hater like myself! 😂 “Gilded Fox” is a great rich more wintery scent (at least to me). It’s kind of a caramel-cocoa to my nose. In other brand faves, I love the white line from Commodity as well, especially “Gold.” Another grown-up vanilla-esque kind of scent. Sticking to a truer vanilla note are the LaVanila fragrances. My personal fave is the “Vanilla Coconut.” Some more great vanilla and coconut scents that lack a bit of staying power come from Comtoir Sud Pacifique. The “Vanille Abricot” and “Vanille Coco” (vanilla apricot and vanilla coconut respectively) are so, so good…but they do fade quicker than most. Scent is not only a very personal thing, but also something that’s very difficult to convey in writing so I’m going to cut it there. Besides, I clearly cannot recommend non-vanilla scents! 😂
Last but not least, we have some Hair Care recommendations. If you’re in need of some great quality hair tools, I have 2 from T3 to mention. I really love my T3 Singlepass Luxe Professional Straightening and Styling Iron when I want straight hair. It never pinches, pulls or catches hair and the even distribution of heat helps smooth out the hair and lock it in for days. It’s great! When I’m going for curls or waves, I go for the T3 Twirl Convertible 1.25” Curling Iron. The curls / waves last so much better and longer than with less expensive options I have tried. The barrel size is also easy to change (though they are purchased separately). Both devices are investments, but I have found them well worth it!
As far as Hair Products go, I don’t have a lot to mention. There is the Full line from Living Proof, though I feel a lot of people argue the cruelty free status with me. It’s a great line if you’re ok with it, if not I have others. There is the Blonde Ale range from DryBar. Great for blondes or highlighted hair. Helps to keep the color from getting brassy without going too far or drying things out too much. If you’re in need of some good beachy waves without the crunch, check out the Ouai Wave Spray. Works really well (as much as a wave spray can with my weird hair), smells good and avoids stickiness or crunchiness. It’s great stuff! Hair care is an area that I haven’t explored that much at Sephora, but those are my favorites so far.
Believe it or not, that’s finally going to do it! I don’t really have any body care or nail favorites these days. Again, haven’t really tried many body products so not much stand out…or is worth the high price tag. Similarly with nails, just nothing really stands out as being better than things available elsewhere. I know this has been ludicrously long and I appreciate anyone who has stuck with it this long! You deserve a medal of some sort! 😂 I hope you have found something of interest in here and the wheels are spinning about what to add to your sale carts come next week. 😜 I hope you all have a fun shopping experience and a fantastic week!!! 💕💕💕